I couldn't resist. I had to bite one of my favorite Jay-Z lines. "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man." Thank you, Sean. I told my wife and business partner yesterday that I have discovered I love being a "
I told my wife and business partner yesterday that I have discovered I love being a "business person". That line means something to me. Symbiotic Swag did not arise out of some moment where I said: "Hey, I want money. What random thing can make money". This IS me. I am going to try to distill in this article what, specifically, I love about it.
I love helping to create something that people actually value enough to buy and put on their bodies. Every time I see the icon come up on my phone that signals me when someone buys a shirt, wall art, mug, or hat - I get a rush. So much of what I do as a teacher may not take effect for years, or even in my lifetime. This is tangible and immediate.
Truly, it is validating. Yes, it is validating in some way to my sense of worth (I can't speak for Kymani), but I don't just mean that. It validates my purpose of trying to get people to see each other and our planet differently. It validates the process of being up late working on a design. It validates those tough moments where Kymani gives it the critique it needs, but I don't want to hear. I know how precious time is as a human, but even more so as a father and husband. I naturally want a return on that time and this is giving us that.
It is not just about the money. But it is about the money. I love the possibility of having more money. I have always been dedicated to community, but have been hampered in doing some of the things that I want to do for my community. I don't admire riches but have always admired those who have been able to earn or attract wealth but then cycle some of it back through the community. I know so many wonderful humans like that (which is a blessing in and of itself). Barely making ends meet as an educator, and being incredibly busy, means I don't have much to give. I want us to be able to give more. To do that I need to attract more. Symbiotic Swag is slowly starting to help us achieve that. The idea here was to attract money to being US, instead of chasing money trying to emulate someone else's idea of what they value. To me, THAT is what being an entrepreneur is all about.
I love trying to buck the status quo and mesh things that other people don't think go together. I did this during my dissertation at Georgetown, when I completed a line of research the National Institutes of Health told me was too ambitious for a student. I, along with others, did this for several years meshing play and athletic development. I love to solve problems for the greater good. I have learned the value of even doing that in small ways. I didn't realize I had so much entrepreneur in me until I found not only my why, but my what.
I love the act of trying to galvanize people behind ideas. For years I wrote articles outlining problems and solutions, trying to convey ideas in new ways. While I am a capable writer (thanks to my parents and teachers), I don't think that is where my impact lies. I have discovered through observation, feedback, and self-reflection that I am far more powerful as a poet and artist than I ever was as an "author". That doesn't mean I will stop writing. It just means that artistry is my first self. Putting messages on hundreds of chests is an evergreen kind of thing. Further, while articles tend to live these days in a virtual community - a human wearing a message tends to spark real human interaction. Many of our supporters/customers have told us that our apparel and products spark meaningful exchange with others. I love that.
I like having control of a process. We don't control the production process (though we can influence it). But we DO have control over the creative process. For two independent thinkers and creative spirits, that is huge. So many of the other things we do, the control is clamped down on us from on high.
Which brings me to my final point: I have always wanted to do something, work on a project with, my soulmate. Kymani, my first date as a teenager, my wife, and the mother of our two girls, is not just beautiful on the outside. That is obvious to anyone who follows us on social media. But anyone that knows her well will tell you she has a depth and warmth to her that is unparalleled by anyone I have ever met. That comes through in our designs like "Enough", which was her brainchild. I am lucky to have her by my side in this, and it makes me love it even more. Also, we both just friggin' love t-shirts and art! So, there's that!
If you want to check out some of our products, just click here to see all of our design collections. If this means to others anywhere close to what it means to us, this should blow up sky high.